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Artist Spotlight: On…Me!

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working chaos: I love creating alongside my daughters

I am my own worst enemy when it comes to self-promotion. I like to make things, and would rather spend my time making things, than promoting my work and getting it “out there” and known. Plus I just feel like what I make is not exactly critical to one’s survival: it is not a food staple or a cure for cancer. It’s just pretty, handmade stuff. Certainly money is not a motivating factor for me either: anyone who is in the handmade community knows what an uphill battle that is.

That said, I have no problem supporting and promoting others in the cottage/handmade industry. I totally see the merit in what they do, the quality in the goods they make. So when thinking of a topic to write about this month for the newsletter, I thought, why not get to know me a bit better? I offer to do artist spotlights on other people, so why not me?

So here are my answers to the questions posed for the artist spotlight.

Who I am & what I make

My name is Leilani, I am married and a mom from Nova Scotia. Currently my creative outlet of choice is jewelry making: particularly personalized keepsakes that I manually engrave an initial or monogram on, and producing fiber for spinning and felting. The name of my creative work is the bb3 project or studio bb3. I used to go by the name “heavenly flower” but now the name is an ode to my 3 gems: my 3 little girls, and based on the superstition that things (good or bad) come in 3’s. I call my work a project and not a business as it is impossible for me alone to really devote the time and money needed to make this what the mainstream world would consider a business.

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My girls love creating in the studio too. They are my main inspiration and motivation. I also have cats who act as work foremen & supervisors 🙂

 

How long have you been creating?

I have been making jewelry for over 15 years: I started in the late 90’s but didn’t seriously get into it until a few years later. My first creative outlet was writing, and my family always saw that as a career path for me as I was growing up. These days I still enjoy writing, but prefer creativity in a more tangible form: things I can create and feel with my hands and allow colors to blend and compliment each other.

My fingers after polishing sterling silver components on my polishing wheel
My fingers after polishing sterling silver components on my polishing wheel

What made you start creating?

I always found solace in working out my feelings in story or verse. I was encouraged in my early 20’s to find an outlet for my time as I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Writing is always cathartic but I needed something – shall we say – happier to bide my time with. So jewelry making helped me express myself and gave me something joyful and tangible to enjoy. I also appreciated the challenge & tediousness that goes along with learning a new skill. I think that is one reason why I love to spin yarn now, as well.

Mohair handspun on my Lendrum spinning wheel
Mohair handspun on my Lendrum spinning wheel

What inspires your designs?

Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart
Cute sterling silver necklace with letter charms and tiny heart

In the beginning I started making the things that I couldn’t find in the stores. When I was younger I was more into fashion & accessorizing. I always liked to have something different to wear than everyone else. These days life in general inspires my work. I like my jewelry to be more classic, everyday wearable – as well as be a keepsake or daily reminder of what is good in one’s life, a milestone, or a loved one we hold dear or are missing…(although I am overdue to play around with statement pieces once again!). My yarn is definitely inspired by color play – it’s like painting but by mixing fiber. But mostly I just love to spin: to hear the whorl of the wheel, to see the transformation from fluffy fiber to twisted rope. The wheel spins and all my thoughts and wishes and desires and negativity and positivity – all spin around with it, meld together and melt away…

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

Certainly “Wings” is the piece that means the most to me – I rarely leave the house without it on. It has my mother’s monogram, and she is my angel, my protector. Certainly the jewelry I made for my wedding is also very dear to me, especially the charm bracelet, that has evolved into a mother’s bracelet (coincidentally 2 of my girls’ birthstones is sapphire – which was my wedding color theme). Mostly I love to hear people’s stories regarding the personalized jewelry I make, and becoming a type of support mechanism for them. Everything from honoring the death of a loved one, to happier events & milestones from weddings to friendships honored, breastfeeding goals reached etc etc. I am humbled to be part of their lives in this capacity: It gives what I do purpose, and I spend a lot of time convincing the negative side of me that what I do *does* have purpose outside of my own emotional well being. Sometimes it feels rather futile & pointless.

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“Wings” a memorial piece developed as a way to honor my mother: with her monogram.

 

I have a few skeins of yarn that I am coveting because I cannot bring myself to turn them into something, I just love to stare at them in skein form. They are curly and fluffy and soft and a whole lot of fun. I probably broke every rule about spinning when I made them, which only makes me love them more…

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A few of my favorite skeins of yarn

Where do you sell your work?

Currently my products are available online only. My family tends to spontaneously roam so I have never been one to commit to doing a market regularly or even a show. We have moved into the direction of permanent residency in Nova Scotia (where we are originally from) by selling one of our properties. Whether or not I will open my North Mountain studio up for shopping or classes remains to be unseen.

You can browse my products via my website and on etsy.

my wedding bracelet, a cherished keepsake I made in 2006
my wedding bracelet, a cherished keepsake I made in 2006

Do you accept custom work?

Sure, so long as the request is within the scope of the style I am currently offering. Custom work is tricky because it takes me hours to develop a new product. There are many factors to consider including wearability, color, flow…if the request is not an esthetic I can put my name on, or if I know it will take several hours in research and development I will politely turn it down. Time is definitely not on my side these days. I encourage everyone to ask though – I will always consider your requests and are honored you asked.

Find out more via the about me on my blog

FAQ for the bb3 project

I am still interested in doing artist spotlights on my blog, even though I have not done one in awhile. If you would like to be featured, send me an email lcd@bb3.ca or leave a comment on this post.

Thanks for reading!

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Artist Spotlight: Elina Singh of Purple Cat Designs

Kites T-shirt, size 4T

I stumbled upon Purple Cat Designs while looking for a large case that could hold all my knitting needles & crochet hooks.  I was absolutely sold on the pattern (it was called, “knit or die”! ;)), and the case itself did not disappoint. Very well made & easily fit all my needles, even the extra large ones. Now Elina who hails from Vancouver, Canada has changed her focus entirely to designing the most delightful children’s clothing. Read on to find out more about the new products, how the clothes are sustainable and why the switch to making children’s clothing…

How long have you been sewing?
I learned to sew when I was probably 6 or 7. First came hand sewing and making doll clothes, then at 9 or so I learned to use the sewing machine. I made myself a summer dress when I was 11, and have been sewing regularly ever since.

floral
Floral Sleeveless Tunic, size 3T by Purple Cat Designs

What made you start creating children’s clothing?
I opened my Etsy shop in 2009. I started selling knitted gloves and scarves – I love knitting, and I was running out of people to knit for…
Then, in 2011, my son was born. Over the past year or so I’ve become increasingly frustrated with commercial children’s clothing. Most of the little boys’ clothes in the stores are dark blue, grey and brown! My boy loves colourful things, so I started to sew clothing for him using bright colours and fun designs, and little by little other parents started to comment on his clothing and place orders.

dino
Dino Raglan T-shirt, Size 2T by Purple Cat Designs

What inspires your designs?
The more I talk to other parents the more obvious it is that I’m not alone in this frustration on kids’ clothing. One source of irritation to many of us is the overly gender-specific clothing. Boys aren’t supposed to wear anything that’s pink or purple, or otherwise pretty. Girls aren’t supposed to wear anything cool. I want to give options to those kids who love pink as well as construction machines, whether they’re boys or girls.
Most designs on the clothing are inspired by my son and his interests. Spending time with him, I’ve learned to look at the world around me on a different way. He notices the colourful leaves in the fall and flowers in the summer, and the construction sites all year round.
I’m also inspired to make sustainable clothing, that’s why I use recycled materials. I hope that my son will still have a planet to live on when he’s 50.

vines
Vines T-shirt Size 3T by Purple Cat Designs

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?
 I’m especially happy with the cement mixer shirts and the dinosaurs. I have several more cut and waiting to be sewn. I also made a monster truck as a custom order, and I think I’ll need to make more of those!

mushroom
Mushrooms Long Sleeved Hooded T-shirt, size 2T by Purple Cat Designs

Where do you sell your work?
Only on Etsy for now. I’ll be at local craft fairs here in Vancouver in the fall.

flowers
Flowers Long-sleeved Hooded T-shirt, size 2T by Purple Cat Designs

Do you accept custom work?
Absolutely! The monster truck was a great challenge, and I’m always open to requests and ideas.

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Puddle Jumping Raglan T-shirt, 3T by Purple Cat Designs

Do you love Elina’s philosophy and aesthetic as much as I do? Be sure to visit Elina’s etsy shop to see more available clothing. Be sure to like her Facebook page to keep up to date with new products & happenings.

Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment below to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

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Artist Spotlight: Nana Browns by Nicole Lulchak

Custom Insulated Lunch Bags by Nana Browns

I discovered Nicole’s Etsy shop back when my now 5 and 6 year old were baby & toddler, while searching for the perfect light weight sun hat. I was so impressed by her design aesthetic as well as fun & stylish fabrics. Soon came diaper holders and the life saving wet bags; all have proven invaluable over the years even now with my girls being 2.5, 5 & 6. In fact I am over due for a new purchase, I think I may have to get a crayon holder or two, as I can attest to Nana Browns durability and innovative design. Best of all: handmade in Canada!

Nana Browns sun hat circa 2010
Nana Browns sun hat circa 2010

how long have you been creating with fabric?

I have been designing and sewing for at least 20 years. It is my favourite form of creative expression and it always makes me feel connected to the women that have shared their knowledge with me over the years.

waterproof zippered wet bag by Nana Browns
waterproof zippered wet bag by Nana Browns

what made you start creating with fabric?

Probably my grandmothers were the biggest influence. They were always sewing something when I was growing up. Quilts, doll clothes, special dresses – anything that they could imagine. I loved everything that they made and wanted to know how to make things of my own.

crayon
crayon wallet by Nana Browns

what inspires your designs? 

My daughter is my biggest inspiration. She is 7 and her imagination is boundless. She does not believe in “can’t” so if she can imagine it she figures that mom can make it for her.

I am also inspired by the world around me. Colours, textures, the shades and depth in a sunrise or sunset …….

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baby bib technicolor mushrooms by Nana Browns

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made? 

I LOVE to make things for my daughter. She is still so thrilled and excited that her Mom made it for her and the pieces I make quickly become her favourites.

I also like to make quilts. They are practical, but can be very beautiful and multi-dimensional depending on the pattern and fabrics used. When I see a quilt it feels like I am making something useful and lasting. I make several quilts every year and donate them to a local hospital for them to use as a fundraiser and I also donate fabric and supplies to a local quilting group that makes quilts for other local charities.

burpcloth
burp cloth bright floral by Nana Brown’s

Where do you sell your work?

I sell my work locally at markets and by word of mouth. I also have a shop on Etsy:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/nanabrowns

Organic Cotton Flannel Nursing Pads by Nana Browns

Do you accept custom work?

Yes I do accept custom work. I have a lot of fun working with clients to make something wonderful just for them

lavender sachets by Nana Browns
lavender sachets by Nana Browns

Don’t forget to check out Nana Browns on Etsy, or if you are local to Red Deer keep an eye out for her at local markets & shows.

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Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment below to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

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Artist Spotlight (and Giveaway!): Jessy Austin of Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

You know that feeling, when you know exactly what would be perfect to make your life easier but you have neither the time or the know how to make it yourself, & you wonder if you can even find it for sale if you go searching? When I started scouring Etsy for the perfect little pouches to store my knitting/crochet needles while traveling, Jessy Austin from Knotted Strings…and Beady Things seemed to be reading my mind.

Knitting Needle Fabric Storage/Travel Cases - Set of 6 - Polka Party by Knotted Strings
Knitting Needle Fabric Storage/Travel Cases – Set of 6 – Polka Party by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

Aren’t these just darling? Not to mention practical! I was so stoked when I contacted Jessy & she was able to ship these to me in Canada. When received they did not disappoint; exactly what I wanted & they accompany me on our frequent trips. No more misplaced needles/hooks, nor the need to bring the entire needle/crochet case.

I thought this was such a brilliant idea, I asked Jessy if she would do an artist spotlight for the blog. Not only did she agree, she generously offered to do a giveaway, as well. 🙂 Intrigued? Read on…

Knitting Needle Fabric Storage/Travel Cases - Set of 3 - Pink Polka by Knotted Strings...and Beady Things
Knitting Needle Fabric Storage/Travel Cases – Set of 3 – Pink Polka by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

How long have you been creating?

Honestly, as long as I can remember! My mom always claims she isn’t “artsy-craftsy,” but I have clear memories of her encouraging my sister and I in our creations and being a great teacher for basic crafting skills. My dad has always written poetry, my grandad was a musician, and both of my grandmothers dabbled in crafty pursuits….I guess it’s in my blood! =}

Knitting Needle/Crochet Hook Fabric Storage/Travel Cases - Set of 6 - Cheetah by Knotted Strings...and Beady Things
Knitting Needle/Crochet Hook Fabric Storage/Travel Cases – Set of 6 – Cheetah by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

What made you start creating?

My first crafting memory is of making salt dough ornaments for Christmas gifts for our family….mainly because we had no money to buy anything! =} Most of my creative passions have started as necessity. I wanted new, trendy clothes in high school, but couldn’t afford them, so I worked on my sewing skills. I needed gift bags and cards for gifts after I moved out on my own, but didn’t have any money (this was before there was a Dollar Tree on every corner) so I started making them. I wanted special gifts for the new babies in our family, so I learned to crochet and, much later, to knit. I also love to give gifts and am very thrifty, so making the things I give is both fun and, usually, affordable.

Girl's Striped Crochet Scarf by Knotted Strings...and Beady Things
Girl’s Striped Crochet Scarf by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

What inspires your designs?

Everything! It can be something as simple as a flower or color. Other times, it’s the feeling inspired by a song or person. I’ve learned the most important part of retaining that idea is to write it down!! There have been too many lines of poetry or knitting chart designs that have just fallen out of my brain when I didn’t jot them down.

Natural Sea Glass Charm by Knotted Strings...and beady Things
Natural Sea Glass Charm by Knotted Strings…and beady Things

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

Most of my craft projects are gifts, so there have been only a few that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy making and giving. For myself, I love making shawls, scarves, socks…in fact, I have a pair of socks on my needles right now! For sale, I enjoy pairing fabrics for my needles/hook travel cases and creating beaded stitch markers and earrings…there are must so many possibilities!

Go Natural Stitch Markers - Set of 8 - Blue/Natural by Knotted Strings...and Beady Things
Go Natural Stitch Markers – Set of 8 – Blue/Natural by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

Where do you sell your work?

Most of my sales are from my etsy shop, Knotted Strings and Beady Things. I also have a few knit & crochet patterns available on Ravelry – with many more just waiting to be made presentable to the crafting community! =}

Striped Cup Sleeve by Knotted Strings...and Beady Things
Striped Cup Sleeve by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

Do you accept custom work?

I certainly do! I’m always happy to talk to someone about their idea and help bring it to life!

Gray Glass Bead Earrings by Knotted Strings...and Beady Things
Gray Glass Bead Earrings by Knotted Strings…and Beady Things

***GIVEAWAY***

Leave a comment on this post, and we’ll randomly draw for a winner to choose a product of their choice from Jessy’s shop (up to $10 value BUT – if we can get 50 comments, as in 50 unique visitors I’ll be happy to make up the difference for any item you want in her shop if over $10). Note that like most blogs I get my share of spam, so moderation may be on when you comment, but rest assured I will approve them tout de suite. 🙂

We’ll take entries until March 12th, 2014…so feel free to share far & wide to get those comment up there to qualify for the bigger prize. 🙂

A sincere thanks to Jessy, and be sure to check her work out on:

Etsy

Ravelry – Rav ID: brighteyesjessy

***UPDATE MARCH 13TH, 2014***AND THE WINNER IS…

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CONGRATULATIONS SHIRLEY!

You can watch the video of the drawing here:

Thanks again all! I had a lot of fun doing this and enjoyed all your comments. I hope to host more giveaways on the blog in the future. 🙂

Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment below to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

Would you like to host a giveaway on creativity inspired? I’d love to hear from you for your very own post, or feel free to leave your giveaway in the comments here if you are hosting your very own, & I’d be happy to repost it for you. Every little bit helps to get your art/handmade goods in front of admirers, and it is my pleasure to lend a hand.

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Artist Spotlight: Cat’s Wire by Catrin Maier

I have known Catrin, the artist behind Cat’s Wire for approximately 5 years now. Based in Göppingen, Germany, we “met” online in a jewelry group, & I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her art evolve over the past few years. I am passionate about beading myself, although have not done much in several years since becoming a mother, and her crochet wire sculptures are utterly delightful & fascinating. To be honest it took me forever to decide what photos to even showcase here, so be sure to follow the links to her work below, you will not be disappointed!

"Lips" by Cat's Wire
“Lips” by Cat’s Wire

How long have you been creating beaded jewelry/objects?

I started with my first wire crochet experiments in winter 2008. In spring 2009 I opened my first shop and got more serious about what I did as I found out that I was hooked and there was no way back.
Over the years I tried out several techniques, but nowadays I mostly do wire crochet, wire knitting with a crochet hook and bead looming.

Colorful Wire Crochet Star Earrings by Cat's Wire
Colorful Wire Crochet Star Earrings by Cat’s Wire


What made you start creating with wire/beads?

Unlike so many artisans I was not a crafty kid. I had a severe glue trauma and remember how I argued about a wire pendant with my art teacher once which is really funny if I think of it today. I dropped out of the crafts course and never learned to sew for example. I knitted a lot at times, mostly sweaters, but stopped doing it years ago.
Then I saw a report about Etsy on a German TV show about computer stuff. I checked it out and was drawn in by all the beautiful handmade items. I stumbled upon a wire crochet piece and after going back to it a few times I got myself a book from which I learned about wire gauges, but never did any of the projects. I bought some cheap wire, grabbed my only crochet hook and started experimenting which is actually what I still today. I do have more hooks now and the wire is not that cheap anymore, though 😉

Octopus sculpture by Cat's Wire
Octopus sculpture by Cat’s Wire


What inspires your designs?

It would be easier to ask what doesn’t inspire them. It can be nature, a scent, a color or even once a bowl of soup (true story). More often than not you can’t see what inspired one of my wire pieces. Many times I don’t even know what a piece will end up as, a pendant can turn into a ring, a ring becomes earrings. I do have to plan most of my bead loomed pieces, however, as they are based on more or less exact patterns which I make myself.

Chinese Lantern by Cat's Wire
Chinese Lantern by Cat’s Wire


What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

Difficult question. Often the piece I just made is my favorite. There are two hearts in my chest, one beating for the wearable art, the other one for my experimental pieces or sculptures. When I start one of them, I’m usually obsessed by the thought of finishing it, no matter how much my wrists or fingers hurt.
There’s my wire crochet glove or the octopus for example, and the wire knit Chinese lanterns that a friend inspired me to make, but also the wire crochet bowl with the wire knit vegetables that still isn’t filled up.
About making wearable art I enjoy not setting myself limits. I can make a clay and copper wire Joan of Arc ring, but also a fine silver and pearls pendant using a gorgeous knapped arrowhead or a silver basket pendant with colorful balls of copper wire “yarn”.

Bead loomed pendant Lurking Cat by Cat's Wire/Heathercats collaboration
Bead loomed pendant Lurking Cat by Cat’s Wire/Heathercats collaboration

A new collaboration project that is very dear to my heart are the HeatherCats. My friend Heather, a New Zealand artist, does the most wonderful, whimsical cat paintings as one line of her work, and I turn them into bead loomed pieces of jewelry. It’s so much fun!

Bead loomed pendant Silhouette Cat - By Cat's Wire/Heathercats collaboration
Bead loomed pendant Silhouette Cat – By Cat’s Wire/Heathercats collaboration

Where do you sell your work?

I have two shops on Zibbet and DaWanda, but I also sell directly on Facebook or deviantART  if people wish to do so.

Wire glove by Cat's Wire
Wire glove by Cat’s Wire


Do you accept custom work?

Yes, I do.

See more of Catrin’s extraordinary work:

Zibbet

Dawanda

Facebook

deviantART

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Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment below to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

 

 

 

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Artist Inspired: Her Majesty the Flapper: One of a kind Jewelry Made from Vintage & New Materials by Laura Boyko

 I met Laura Boyko aka Her Majesty the Flapper at the Bridgetown Farmers & Traders Market this summer. I asked her for an interview to find out what inspires her funky one of a kind designs that most definitely can be called wearable art.

Cozy in Our Igloo Necklace
Cozy in Our Igloo Necklace

How Long have you been making jewelry?

I have been making jewelry professionally for one year. I participated in a Christmas Craft show in Bridgetown last December. I received wonderful feedback from the community which encouraged me to sign up for two weekly summer markets, the Bridgetown Farmer’s and Trader’s Market and the Annapolis Royal Farmer’s and Trader’s Market. Since then, I have been very busy doing special event markets, jewelry parties and online sales.

Ice Castle Necklace
Ice Castle Necklace

What made you start creating jewelry?

I have a passion for making things and an interest in collecting unique jewelry. I suppose it was a natural progression for me.

Misbehaving Underneath the Mistletoe Earrings
Misbehaving Underneath the Mistletoe Earrings

What inspires your designs?

I am inspired by the materials. I spend a lot of time with the beads and chain in my hands. I lay them out in front of me, pushing the colours and shapes that are pleasing to my eye into groups. I studied sculpture at Emily Carr University. I think that I approach jewelry making in the same way that I would approach making a found object assemblage. The making of the piece is only the final step, the design process is what really excites me.

Winter's Bride Necklace
Winter’s Bride Necklace

What are your favorite pieces to make/ creations that you have made?

The best pieces happen when I don’t concern myself with their salability. After making hundreds of pieces in the past year, the process remains interesting to me because I allow myself to make work that is unconventional and bold and that may not sell right away. When it happens, selling a piece like that is the most satisfying. I feel a connection with customer because they see what I see in the design.

Dried Flower Earrings
Dried Flower Earrings

Where do you sell your work?

I sell my work at the local farmer’s markets and through my blog

Green Apple of My Eye Earrings
Green Apple of My Eye Earrings

Do you accept custom work?

I will absolutely do custom work. I have a lot of fun collaborating with customers on the design.

Kaleidoscope necklace
Kaleidoscope necklace

To contact Laura & for more of her fab jewelry, please visit her blog, and if you are in & around the Bridgetown, Nova Scotia area keep your eye out for Her Majesty the Flapper at local craft shows & markets.

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Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment below to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

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Artist Inspired: Painting Poems by Steve Skafte & Wally Shishkov

Steve Skafte of Bridgetown, and Wally Shishkov of Bear River, Nova Scotia, have combined their talents to simultaneously create a cohesive piece of artwork called Painting Poems. I was particularly intrigued at how poet & painter can work silently together yet have the end result manifest the perfect mood/emotion – with Wally painting upside down, no less!  Learn more about the artists & their process in this interview with Steve Skafte.

MESMERIZE / 8.5 x 11 inches / unframed / watercolor and poetry

How long have you been creating painting-poems?

The very first piece that we did was on May 20, 2013. We began on a blank sheet, with no preparation or fore-thought whatsoever.

DEATHBED / 8.5 x 11 inches / unframed / watercolor and poetry

What made you start creating painting-poems?

We both survive almost entirely off the income of what we create, so economical reasons are almost as pressing as creative ones. I (Steve Skafte) had been thinking a lot about busking and street performance, and it was just getting into the season where warmth makes that sort of thing possible (or at least comfortable) in Nova Scotia. I came across a TED talk by Amanda Palmer where she talked about the concept of allowing people to give in return for art, rather than the idea of constantly demanding payment. I was already planning to take to the street with the idea of writing poetry live when a conversation with Wally Shishkov turned me in the direction of collaborative creating. There was a real desire to be seen for both of us. Art is more invisible than ever before in rural Canada, shoved into dark corners and only drug out with the notion of group expression or with the drive of government funding. We were tired of waiting to be accidentally discovered, so we decided to put ourselves in the path of passing traffic. There was never any urge for performance, just a nervous and open-hearted sharing. What could we do but create? For all the people hawking their finished products, it seemed to mean so much more for them to see it coming alive.

COMBUSTION / 8.5 x 11 inches / unframed / watercolor and poetry

What inspires your designs?

Dreams, nature, water. Water more than anything, that’s part of working with watercolours, I suppose. Wavelengths, lightwaves, electrical impulses, magnetism. Without waves, where would we be, what could we see? Nowhere and nothing. The images start swirling, and they eventually find their way or dry their way to completion. Geometric shapes, lines and crosses and circles. The patterns of frost, the growth of crystals. We begin every creation live and at the same time, so as Steve writes and Wally paints upside-down, there’s a rush to the end, or at least to discover where the end is. In the end, the inspiration is the word. We pick that word, the title of the painting-poem, and try as best we can to express the full and whole emotion of what that word means to us. The shape is almost always entirely unexpected. It’s hard to know where it comes from.

GRAVITY / 8.5 x 11 inches / unframed / watercolor and poetry

What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

There’s one called “Exodus” that was particularly hard to part with. A lot of the pieces hang on heavily from the meaning of the words. The images mean a lot to us, but the words are a story, a one-of-a-kind journey to a place we’ve never been and will never be again. The wide-eyed smiles and sometimes tears in the eyes and on the faces of friends and strangers when they see the painting-poem come alive, fully improvised in front of them, just for them, that’s worth a lot. I think of a few pieces where the joy and sorrow was beyond compare, and we were deeply humbled and honored to share it. “Heartbeat”, was one. “Gypsy” was another, for a woman we’ll never forget. One called “Solitude” carried a woman back to the death of her mother, and we didn’t mean it that way, but it was exact to the strangest detail. “Transformation”, done on the street for a friend named Stephanie, was the most personal of experiences. Between the two of us creating, with her and her boyfriend watching, it was almost religious in nature. Nothing has ever felt so right. There’s a line in a piece called “The Gift” that says: “The gift we have is the gift we’re giving,” and that’s the real depth of it, I think. The ones that mean the most to us are the ones that meant the most to others.

SQUALL / 8.5 x 11 inches / unframed / watercolor and poetry

Where do you sell your work?

We sell on the street live when we create, or inside at what shows we can get when the weather is colder. A binder of our 8.5×11 work is available for view at Low Tide Gallery (4 Queen Street, Bridgetown, Nova Scotia) as well as a handful of our 16×20 pieces. Online, we sell all of our currently available work in our Etsy shop, but all sold and unsold works can be browsed on Facebook.

DAWNING / 8.5 x 11 inches / unframed / watercolor and poetry

Do you accept custom work?

Absolutely! About 1/3rd of all our work is requested. Unlike most art, requests are more like conversational ideas than demands. We start with a word (or sometimes a two/three word title) and sometimes a little background of what it means to them, then create from there. If you’d like us to do a piece for you, go to our Etsy shop and click the “Request Custom Order” button.

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I own 3 Painting Poems for my Bridgetown home, & look forward to possessing more.

To see/learn more:

visit Steve & Wally’s etsy shop
follow them on Facebook

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Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment below to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

Have you been healed by creativity? I am looking for examples to be featured here on the creativity inspired blog of how art/creativity helped you overcome loss/hardship/illness. Did you paint a picture? Get a tattoo/had art created for you, much like the Painting Poems? Plant a garden in honor of a person or event? I want to hear every & all examples of how an outward expression aided you in your process. It is my hope that others will find comfort in these inspirational stories. Please contact me directly in order to be featured, or leave me a comment below. My only requirement is that you have one picture of the finished product to share with readers. Namaste!

 

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Shaun the Sheep: A Creation in Polymer Clay by Handmade by Lindsay

 

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Look what visited me in the studio – the perfect subjects to test out my new photography setup. It’s Shaun, Timmy & a fat mama sheep from the claymation cartoon “Shaun the Sheep”. I commissioned my friend Lindsay McGrath from Handmade by Lindsay: Ploymer Clay Creations in Ottawa, Ontario to make them for my growing sheep collection.

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I’ve known Lindsay for several years, about as long as I have been dating my now husband, and they were friends in University. This is a relatively new form of artistic expression for her, & I asked her to do a quick interview as this is the  type of inspiration we all need to get started finding our own creative outlet (and artist within us all!)…

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How long have you been creating with clay?

I picked up polymer clay for the very first time in the fall of 2011. I’d never used anything like it since childhood, playing with playdoh.

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What made you start creating with clay?

I started because my children were asking for toys of characters from a video game called Katamari Damacy, and none existed. My brother-in-law has been making things out of polymer clay for years and I had some magnets that he’d made for us; I thought that it might work for making the characters. So I picked some up and gave it a try, and was very surprised that it seemed to come naturally to me. I’d never considered myself an artist, and certainly not a sculptor, but I find polymer clay very easy to work with, and there is a ton of info and tutorials on the internet, which has been very helpful.

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What inspires your designs?

Most of what I’ve been making lately have been custom orders, but when I get the chance to make whatever I want I tend to gravitate to geeky-type things. I love everything about geek culture (being a huge geek myself), and the creative possibilities with it are endless! I’m finding that lately I am especially gravitating to Doctor Who themed things. I have some projects in the works that I am very excited about!

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What are your favorite pieces to make/creations you have made?

I recently made a gift for my children’s teacher, an owl sitting on top of a stack of books. It was a lot of fun to make, and I think it turned out pretty cute. I’ve also made some Christmas ornaments that I’m really proud of, especially my Christmas Borg, Shark, and Tardis.

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Where do you sell your work?

I do most of my selling on-line, whether it’s to people who stumbled upon my blog and Etsy shop, or to my friends across the country who put in their requests through Facebook. Last fall, however, I did my first craft show, the Ottawa Geek Market. I shared a table with another talented artist, and it was a lot of fun. I will be selling at the Geek Market this year too, and I’ll have a whole table instead of a half.

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Do you accept custom work?

I do accept custom work! It is my primary source of business. While I do love geeky things, I also do non-geek work, and I’m open to trying just about anything!

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Be sure to check out Lindsay’s blog, Handmade by Lindsay to see more of her kick-ass polymer clay work! 🙂

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Are you an artist inspired? I’m looking to share your story here and in my monthly newsletter. Inspire me; inspire others! E-mail me or leave a comment to be considered. All you need is an online presence (blog, website, Etsy shop, etc.) so that the international audience the internet attracts can get to know you & your product better. This is my contribution to the handmade/artist community, & I am honored to do so! Look forward to hearing from you…

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Artist Inspired: Keepsake Necklace Featuring N Valentine Studio

Last week,  I received a real gem in the mail. Not a precious stone per se, but a handmade keepsake that means the world to me.

This is one of Nicole Valentine-Rimmer‘s (of NValentineStudio) keepsake lampwork beads: and inside contains two locks of hair – each from both my girls’  first hair cuts.

I was so amazed when I received it – I had sent her the locks of hair and was astounded at how she got it inside the bead – and so neatly displayed as well! So my task at hand was – what to design along with it? The bead on its own is a true focal and I didn’t want to attract too much attention away from it. In fact I put it on a sterling silver chain and declared: done! 🙂 But what could I do to make this more special to me, as I wear it on a regular basis?

So I started forming this idea for an asymmetrical style necklace which contained an engraved sterling silver heart pendant (as I am working toward developing a customized engraved line) and a sterling silver word bead. I didn’t want a lot to detract away from Nicole’s keepsake bead – and something asymmetrical to me would still allow the bead itself to be the focal point.

I will have to admit – this was not an easy necklace to photograph. The glass of the bead reflected the light and camera – and I buffed the pendant on my polishing lathe to a high shine so – finger prints – as much as I tried to remove them at set up, would be glaringly obvious, and looked like scratches in the photos. After some fiddling with lights and camera position, here’s what we have:

I engraved my girls’ names on the heart blank – and added a word bead: “inspire” – because I am dedicated to living an inspired life and my children certainly inspire me. I also wanted the word as a reminder to always inspire them.

The word bead is stamped on both sides so regardless of which way you wear it or if the bead flips around it will always say “inspire”. So I needed to engrave something on the back of the heart pendant. I decided to go with a mother and child symbol – a mother holding baby in arms.

When I engraved the symbol – I would have liked it to be one maybe two sizes larger to fill up the pendant more. So I had this idea to adhere Swarovski flatbacks in our birthstone colours to help fill up the space. The larger one on the left is mine: for April – diamond, the girls (September and March – Aquamarine & Sapphire ) on the left.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Swarovski flatbacks. They certainly look nice on the necklace as I wear it, but it is hard to remove finger print smudges around them. One good thing is that they bond really well to the metal. I put them through a bit of abuse this weekend to see if I could get them to fall off – suffice it to say unless I plan on soaking the pendant in acetone, they should stay put. 🙂

I’ve been wearing this necklace all day, and will probably wear it almost everyday! What makes it so special to me, is the keepsake bead.

Nicole has been making beads at her home studio in Victoria, British Columbia for almost 6 years; 2 years full time. Besides making lampwork beads she is  also a metalsmith &  does some viking knit and byzantine. She also teaches her craft, developing a class specifically for silversmithing for lampworkers.

She is inspired by the wilderness, her animals, and  color. “I love color the brighter the better right now.” On her inspiration for the keepsake beads, she says, “I’ve been wanting to offer something unique as a keepsake for a while. We lost a horse last year and I was trying to think of a way to have a memory of him. Hence the filled beads were inspired.”

Check out more of Nicole’s work  by visiting NValetintineStudio on Etsy and her blog.

It is my hope that we can collaborate on this piece together and it is my plan to offer it for sale on my website.  I want to be able to allow the customer to choose either just the bead or add my elements to it as well. Of course, you can also buy the bead direct from Nicole as well! Whatever you decide, it is sure to be cherished for years to come.

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Artist Inspired: Inspired by Nature ~ Handmade Card by Hanway, Ink

I’ve been thinking of cards lately. Cards Cards Cards. I’ve been hitting all the stationery/crafty places: Omer DeSerres (DeSerres, Loomis…Loomis & Toles…whatever their name is now in whatever official Canadian language ;)), Staples, Libraries Boyer…even took a trip to Ottawa to Michael’s for inspiration. I have the honour of making wedding invitations and all things stationery for my dear friend who is tying the knot next year (note to self: should do a blog post on *my* wedding invites…*giggle*).

So my mind lately has been drawn to the work of this very crafty chick who knows a thing or two about embellishing paper: Michelle Hanway, author of the Hanway, Ink Blog.

Check out this snazzy card “Inspired by Nature”  ~ her own garden of echinacea being its inspiration:

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Michelle has been crafting since 2007. She says, “I’ve always had crafty aspirations, but never stuck to something…”. Her creative preferences are card making & photography. Being a woman after my own heart, she does not scrapbook. 😉 Her favourite paper technique is heat embossing…something I hope to try my hand at later this week (Omer DeSerres was having a sale. Ahem.). She gathers her inspiration from many blogs, her garden, “whatever pops into my weird lil’ head”. Ribbon is her admitted favouirte embellishment. You will find Michelle’s crafty aspirations contained in a storage room in her home she has nicknamed the “Craft Cave”.

Michelle has been demoing for Stampin’Up! since Aug 11, 2008. (*Drool*…good thing Michelle lives in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia…otherwise, I would be *broke*!) The “Inspired by Nature” card uses stamps from the company by the same name.

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Above: ‘Wings of Friendship” Hostess set Stampin’ Up ~ as constructed by Michelle Hanway

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Artist Inspired: Double Duty Diaper Buddy – Diaper Bag and Change Pad by Nana Brown’s

Sometimes I am totally inspired by a handmade item not just for its beauty-artistic appeal but for it’s practical-artistic appeal. So is the case with the Double Duty Diaper Buddies by Nicole Lulchak of Nana Browns.

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I discovered this fellow Canadian’s  Etsy Shop a few months ago, upon preparing for summer with essentially two babies. I was actually drawn in by her adorable sun hats which I ordered (they are totally cute too!). Then while browsing her shop thought I would try the diaper buddy as well. I was immediately impressed at the craftsmanship and by the versatility of the item. It held diapers for both my girls plus was the perfect change pad while on the go (and we have certainly been on the go A LOT this past summer!).

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When I inquired as to how she came up with the diaper buddy, Nicole replies:

“The inspiration behind the Diaper Buddy was truly necessity. We were going on a vacation to Arizona and Mexico and I was trying to find ways to make the diaper bag lighter, while still carrying everything that we needed. I also wanted to be able to just grab the things needed for a quick diaper change and leave the big bag behind. The criterion was lighter, functional and stylish and after some tinkering with the pattern and different fabrics the Diaper Buddy was born. We tested it out everywhere we went on our vacation, it was fabulous, and I got all kinds of feedback from people who saw us using it and wanted to get their own. Mine travels everywhere we go and it really is great to just be able to grab it and go if we need to.”

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Nicole has been designing and sewing for approximately 20 years.

“…not quite longer than I can remember, but a lot of years. I think I made my first piece, a patchwork pillow, on my Mother’s sewing machine when I was about 10 or 11.

“I have a large collection of fabric and patterns, both new and vintage and really enjoy designing new pieces from all the ideas in my head. Both my Grandmothers were avid sewers and I learned a lot from them. One of my favorite patterns is a hand drawn quilt pattern that came from my Grandmother on my father’s side. I use it often and it always reminds me of her.

“I have had a lot of fun since I set up shop on Etsy about a year and a half ago. It has been really incredible to send my pieces to people all over the world and know that they enjoy them. I have really enjoyed the opportunity to make more custom pieces for people as well.”

Nicole is inspired by colours and textures, and also finds her daughter is a great source for inspiration. Necessity will drive the creativity as well, and as a busy mom myself, I can totally relate! She also finds that her creativity & tactile nature motivates her to find inspiration in most things.

“I am a very tactile person – I love to wander through a shop and touch and feel the things that catch my eye. My husband always says it takes twice as long to shop with me because I have to stop and touch everything!”

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Artist Inspired: Amethyst/Citrine Rough Cut Necklace by mcstoneworks

Anyone who knows me, knows I love a great stone or mineral sample. My jaw dropped when I saw this necklace made with rough cut amethyst & citrine by Michele Carte of mcstoneworks. This piece combines my love of jewelry and stone specimens all in one! I absolutely love seeing these gemstones in all their natural beauty. A piece like this I would love to examine up close!

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When I inquired about the piece, Michele, a fellow SATeamer, replied,

“I found the amethyst/citrine rough cut beads at a gem and mineral show. I couldn’t put them down. They were just so beautiful in their natural rough state. I decided to use a simple design so the focus was on the rough cut stones. I didn’t want to detract from them. This design is quite different from most of my other pieces.”


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Michele has been designing jewelry for about 3 years, and I think I am drawn to her work because she too is inspired by nature (on a side note: Michele & I share the same birthday of April 22nd. So it’s no wonder to me why we are so drawn to nature ~ April 22nd after all, is Earth Day & makes us the very earthy sign of Taurus. :)).

“Most of the pieces I design are inspired by some aspect of nature. I use a lot of flowers, and leaves in my work. My husband and I own an interior plantscaping company so my designs are a natural extension of my love for plants and flowers. I also like flower gardening.”

See Michele’s other nature inspired pieces in her Etsy Shop. I also really like her resin flower jewelry!


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Artist Inspired: Mother and Child Pendant by Dianne Karg Baron

When I joined the Starving (Jewelry) Artists Etsy Street Team last year, one artist that caught my attention right away was Dianne Karg Baron. Her wire work is absolutely perfect: the attention to detail & craftsmanship is second to none & the designs truly inspire me. I knew that I had to have an example of her work featured here for future reference. Although there are several other pieces that are far more intricate, I was totally drawn to this pendant entitled: Mother & Child.

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I chalked up my intense interest in this pendant as the result of being a young mother, having given birth twice in an 18 month period. Then Dianne shared the background on this design, and it was then that  I understood why this particular piece held such a powerful energy:

“…And sometimes, the inspiration for a piece comes from an episode in my own life. In the case of “Mother and Child”, it was a miscarriage. Back in May, I discovered I was pregnant. It was a surprise pregnancy – completely unexpected. On the Monday I took the test, had a positive result. On Wednesday I went to my family doctor to get the process of finding an OB started and to schedule an ultrasound. On Thursday I started bleeding… After a couple of hours of sitting in Emergency, I had some tests and was sent home with the advice to come back if it got heavier. On Saturday, I started cramping severely, went back to Emergency and miscarried while waiting for a second set of test results.

It all happened so fast that I barely had time to wrap my head around the idea. Originally, I had planned on delaying doing the pregnancy test until Thursday, and then got impatient. It occurred to me that if I had followed through on the original plan, I would have never known I was pregnant.

I knew the chances of going full term were slim: I have underlying health issues that would have made for a very difficult pregnancy. So, the miscarriage wasn’t a surprise, but I was still sad. More than anything, it made me wish I’d met my husband 10 years earlier.

I’m of the opinion that every pregnancy is a soul connection between the mother and the child. That connection continues regardless if the pregnancy is terminated, miscarried or goes full term. Part of my grieving process has been to think in terms of still being “Mommy” to an angel who didn’t quite make it to Earth.

The pendant is my expression of that soul connection: it clearly shows the baby growing safe and secure in its mother’s belly. The foetus is abstract, and to my view, also looks a little like an angel wing. So my hope is that it works on both levels: celebrating the ones who join us, and remembering the ones who are growing up on the other side.”

When I received this background on the pendant, I found myself welling up with tears. I wanted it to remain in Dianne’s words rather than edited as I am sure many women will be touched and even comforted by her story. This piece is a true testament of how we can use our creative abilities to heal & inspire others.

Dianne has been making and designing jewelry for almost 15 years. She finds her inspiration from art, from architecture, from nature, from history – and of course, from personal experience. See more of Dianne’s work, including tutorials, at her Etsy Shop & visit her website.

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Artist Inspired: Not-so-delicate Delica Ring – Gold Bling by Maked

I come across the most wonderful handmade work & it pushes me to keep creating and keep evolving. So I thought it would be nice to have a section on my blog just for work that moves me, influences me & speaks to me. I also wanted to get background on certain pieces. How and why were they made, what inspired the particular piece & the artist. This will be a place for me to refer back to especially when I need some extra inspiration, as well as share it with all of you & give these talented artists some recognition!

The first piece I wanted to share is this delica beaded ring by Lisa Brideau of Maked. I have always admired her skill to make such beautiful items out of seed beads (something I have tried my hand at but I just don’t have the patience or the vision!!). These rings not only look great on, but are comfortable to wear!

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Lisa started beading in Jr. High after her mom gave her a cheap plastic bead loom. She took to it instantly, and so started an obsession with seed beads. The beadwork was shelved while Lisa attended university, but soon after she picked up the hobby again, this time discovering delica beads.

“I’ve been making the delica rings in particular since the 2nd year of my graduate program (a few years ago now) – I needed a small, portable project to do during my law class – not because I was bored but because I didn’t have to take notes so my hands were restless. My classmates loved them and they became a staple of my beadwork.”

These rings are great for those of us with busy hands. Says Lisa: “I love the way they feel – when I need something to fiddle with, I can take my ring off and squish it. Weird, but satisfying. There’s something lovely about the texture of woven beads. It’s also very pleasant feeling the perfect delica beads lock into place one by one as I stitch the ring.”

Although the delica rings give her a nice break from the long, involved & intricate work she normally does, larger projects are more to her liking.  Check out her most involved beadwork project to date. She had to build a loom big enough to create it on:

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